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SOUTH FLORIDA APARTMENT OWNER WHO REFUSED TO RENT TO AFRICAN AMERICANS TO PAY $1.2 MILLION UNDER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLEMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The owner of a 694-unit North Miami Beach apartment complex who refused to rent to African Americans will pay $1.2 million in damages and penalties under an agreement reached with the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami, as well as a local fair housing organization and a group of African Americans. It is the largest settlement ever obtained by the Justice Department in a rental housing discrimination case based on race. The agreement, approved last night by the U.S. District Court in Miami, resolves a suit alleging that the owner of the Beverly Hills Club Rental Apartments charged black tenants higher rents than whites and falsely informed black apartment-seekers that no units were available. It is the second time the Justice Department has accused the owner, Jose Milton, of discriminating against minorities. In May 1993, two African Americans who had been told that no units were available filed a complaint with Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence or "HOPE". HOPE, a fair housing organization in Miami, sent trained pairs of black and white "testers" posing as prospective tenants to the complex to inquire about apartments. When the testing revealed that blacks were treated differently than whites, HOPE sued Milton and his real estate company, United Property Management, Inc., as well as the rental agents and managers of the complex. Following an independent investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami together with the Justice Department filed a separate suit in February 1994 accusing the owner of violating the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race. The two suits were later combined. "To deny a person an apartment because of their race is to deny that person their rightful share of the American Dream," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "Today's agreement signals our commitment to vigorously enforce our nation's anti-discrimination laws." Patrick noted that similar testing under a Justice Department nation-wide fair housing testing program has produced 28 federal suits resulting in settlement totaling over $1.5 million. The Justice Department is currently conducting testing in over a dozen cities across the country. Based on evidence gathered through its testing program, the Justice Department in June filed six suits in Miami alleging discrimination by the owners and operators of 13 apartment complexes in Boca Raton and Kendall. "No American should be denied housing because of the color of their skin," said Kendall Coffey, U.S. Attorney in Miami.

Coffey, who oversaw the settlement talks, said that under the agreement the defendants will: ​ pay $650,000 to HOPE and the individual plaintiffs and $200,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. treasury; ​ create two funds totaling $375,000 to compensate any individuals who may subsequently be identified as victims of the discrimination; ​ ​ advertise in local papers to locate possible victims of the discrimination; and, fund future testing by HOPE; In a similar case against Milton in 1988, the Justice Department alleged that he engaged in discrimination in the operation of the Beverly Hills complex and several other rental properties that he owned. The case was settled in June 1989. Individuals who believe that they were discriminated against at the Beverly Hills Club Rental Apartments should call Veronica Harrell-James at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami at 305-536-4238. Individuals who believe that they were discriminated against anywhere in the nation can contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. # # # 95-460